Over the past week or so I've been extolling the virtues of The Paris Review, the haughty and well-respected progeny of George Plimpton, Harold L. Humes and Peter Mathiessen. Of the three, Plimpton is by far the most memorable, and justifiably so. I still get sad when I remember he's no longer in this world.
At any rate, The Paris Review is perhaps the journal-of-record when it comes to presenting the state of short story, poetry, narrative nonfiction, and interview. But that doesn't make it the best of the many literary journals in existence. In fact, they tend to reflect more of an MFA sensibility (refined, yet boring writing) than a grittier more plot and narrative centered form of storytelling.
The journal that manages to consistently deliver in the areas of poetry, short story, narrative nonfiction, and interview is by far The Sun, a plucky monthly magazine out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The writing in this magazine is on point, always compelling, and focuses on what it means to be a human being in this day and age.
You may have seen one of their best narrative nonfiction pieces if you watched Helen Hunt and John Hawkes in the movie The Sessions.
T say the least, I have tried for years to place a piece with them, but as of yet have not been fortunate or talented enough. I'll keep trying, though.
The reason why I am point out The Sun is that as I continue on my life-long experiential MFA program, I include this literary journal as a must have monthly seminar on writing. Please give them a try.